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Trade fears, Brexit overshadow German chemical firms
Published on: Thursday, September 06, 2018

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German chemical firms enjoyed a strong second quarter, the powerful VCI industry federation said Wednesday, but see "clouded" prospects ahead as Brexit looms and America's trade showdown with China swells.

Between April and June, the roughly 1,700 companies represented by the VCI reported a 5.4-per cent year-on-year increase in production, a 1.1-per cent increase in prices and a 5.8-per cent increase in sales.

Nevertheless, "much points to demand ebbing in the second half of the year compared with the first," federation president Kurt Bock said in a statement, adding that export forecasts were "especially" weakened.

Compared with the first three months, high economic growth in Asia and the United States made for increased demand for chemicals, while Latin America and Europe lagged behind.

Pharmaceuticals makers had the best quarter of any sector, booking 13.2 per cent year-on-year sales growth, compared with 3.0 per cent for non-pharma firms.

Looking ahead, "risks to the business situation have increased sharply since the beginning of the year," the VCI judged.

"Brexit is growing closer and closer without the UK and European Union being able to agree on rules for what comes next," it pointed out. And President Donald Trump's increasingly aggressive trade policy towards both China and traditional partners like the EU means that "uncertainty is growing", prompting some chemicals buyers to slow production.

The federation nevertheless still forecasts increased production and prices over the second half of the year, with sales set to rise 4.5 percent to 204 billion euros ($236 billion) — mostly powered by pharmaceuticals. – AFP

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